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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

No Replacing Nancy
by Hal Vickery

When we left off last week, a certain internet columnist was bemoaning the loss of White Sox organist Nancy Faust during night games and begging Nancy and Brooks Boyer to renegotiate Nancy’s current contract with the Sox. The column was a response to a thread in the WSI message boards.

In the past week, we’ve contacted both Brooks Boyer and Nancy Faust, and it seems that the begging of aging internet columnists isn’t going to change anything. I have to compliment both Nancy and Brooks for putting up with the rantings of an aging fan, but I guess the time has come to just admit it. I’m twenty years old anymore (my age when Nancy joined the Sox organization), and a lot of time has passed.

I’ve been doing a little self-analysis as to why I might have such a strong reaction to the partial loss of a person who, when you get right down to it, is part of the periphery of the game. There are a lot of reasons, I guess.

To start out, you have to imagine yourself in 1970. The Sox were absolutely terrible that year, finishing with a record of 62-100, the worst in team history. They drew under a half-million fans to the park that year. About the only good thing happening at old Comiskey Park was the debut of a young organist who actually dared to play hits of the day. Pretty soon she was also using music to accentuate players’ names, numbers, and anything else relevant about them.

She was young, she looked like the girl next door, and she obviously had a great sense of humor. Based on conversations I had during those early years, it is quite possible that every heterosexual male Sox fan under the age of 100 had a crush on her.

Fast forward to 1991 or thereabouts. The Sox had moved to a new ballpark, but Nancy was there, now in a booth in the lower deck behind home plate. The fans who had previously flocked to her old upper-deck perch now lined up there. On of them was a ten-year-old kid with a message for a song to play to introduce Rob Ducey, the theme from “I Love Lucy.” She used it his next at bat. The kid was impressed and over the course of the summer brought her other ideas which she used.

For some reason, Nancy took a liking to that kid. At SoxFest she was holding a seminar and that kid and his father were in the audience. She told the Rob Ducey story and had the kid stand up. That kid is now twenty-six years old and told me recently that Nancy has always been a kind of idol.

This column has always shown support for Nancy Faust. Not long ago Nancy asked what she ever did to get so much enthusiastic support from me. I told her, “You were very good over the years to Jeff, and he has always appreciated that. That has made me your biggest supporter.”

Fast-forward to 2005. In a conversation with me, Nancy said she would be proposing to the Sox that she wanted to cut back her games. When asked the reason for this she has consistently said the same thing she did last week when asked yet again.

“I know that eventually I’m going to retire,” she replied. “A transition is inevitable and I don’t want it to be difficult for either side. I am thankful for more years than I could have ever imagined and will be a fan of the sox and all sox fans for life.”

Heck, I’m looking at retiring sometime before the next decade is over. I can relate to that, although the thought of being at that point in life is a little disturbing. Was 1970 really that long ago?

In the message boards and elsewhere, some have tried to make the Sox the villain in this story. Unfortunately for them, Nancy’s boss is Brooks Boyer, who started by saying, “Nancy is one of the nicest people I know.” Boyer has publicly stated that Nancy will have a job with the Sox for as long as she wants.

Boyer continued, “After 35 years working for us, in my opinion, Nancy has earned the right to pick her schedule. Having Nancy some of the time is better than not at all. She, and organ music, is part of our history and part of our tradition.”

That doesn’t sound like someone involved in a conspiracy to rid the Sox of Nancy Faust. It certainly is diametrically opposed to a former Sox official who once said, “Five percent of the people in the ballpark go to her booth. Maybe the other ninety-five percent of the fans in their seats think she stinks.”

So it seems that nothing is different from what was reported here when the news of Nancy’s lighter work load was first announced. Nancy wants to cut back, and the Sox want her for as long as she wants to play. It’s just that some of us (he said, looking in the mirror) need to realize that Nancy is in her thirty-seventh year with the Sox, and she should be allowed to do whatever she wants.

Upon coming to that epiphany, I decided that the other topic of conversation on the message boards didn’t really need to be discussed, either with Nancy or with Brooks. Some writers on the boards here proposed that the Sox hire another organist to play night games.

This is a terrible idea. It will be bad enough for Nancy’s replacement, should the Sox decide to hire one when she retires. Think about it. The organist will be a different person with different ideas. I can already hear the comments from the fans at the ballpark and on the WSI boards: “Nancy’s a lot better.”

If you don’t believe it, look at the message board threads about the Sox’ new radio broadcast team. Startling revelation: Ed Farmer is not John Rooney! Startling revelation: Chris Singleton can’t hold a candle to Ed Farmer doing color! We won’t bother to go into questions of talent or ability. You’d see the same posts no matter how talented either broadcaster might be. (Remember when Farmer replaced Wayne Hagin?)

Imagine having to put up with that while Nancy was still playing a third of the games. Any organist would say “No, thanks” to that proposition.

In last week’s column there was one other item that got a lot less attention than the comments about Nancy Faust. That was the ear-splitting volume of the canned music. I’ve only seen one comment on the message boards about it, and it indicated that the volume may have been turned down at least somewhat below 11. Since I won’t be at a game until Saturday, I can’t confirm or deny this, but I hope it’s true.

I’ll be with a group and might actually want to carry on a conversation with some of them.


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

Have a Thought about
No Replacing Nancy?
You Can Put it on the Board -- Yes!



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